National Parks’ Autonomous Shuttle Makes Good Environmental Sense
Are you heading out to the national parks for your summer getaway this year? If you do then you will find AI has been integrated into one in particular. And it has the cutest name for a shuttle service we ever heard of: TEDDY.
The TEDDY shuttle will transport visitors to Yellowstone National Park free of charge within the Canyon Village campground, visitor services, and adjoining visitor lodging areas. The cube-shaped shuttles look a bit like a child’s toy—but are capable of carrying up to 1,350 pounds in its 7-foot by 13-foot frame, according to the Billings Gazette. Visitors who board TEDDY can watch an informational five-minute video while on board, explaining the shuttle program and its potential impact on wildlife in Yellowstone.
Yes, it is an all-electric tram of sorts. The excitement is over the partnership between the National Park Service and Beep—a provider of multi-passenger, electric, autonomous mobility solutions—announced June 10 the launch of Yellowstone National Park’s first-ever autonomous shuttle program, called T.E.D.D.Y. (The Electric Driverless Demonstration in Yellowstone), in partnership with Local Motors, a leader in the design and manufacturing of autonomous vehicles. The TEDDY project, an ode to Teddy Roosevelt, will enable the National Park Service to test the feasibility and sustainability of autonomous mobility and better plan for the future of transportation.
“Beep is proud to have been selected by the National Park Service to provide transformative mobility at the country’s first national park. Our safety centric approach is a vital component in our planning, management and oversight of the operation to ensure we are providing visitors with a safe and sustainable mode of transport while enjoying the park. Our team spent several weeks onsite leading up to the start of the program conducting rigorous route testing, as well as training first responders and frontline workers in order to protect and preserve all that Yellowstone has to offer,” said Joe Moye, Beep CEO.
The Beep company is based mostly in Florida but it does offer operations in Peoria, Arizona as well. And should this experiment in Yellowstone go as anticipated, you can expect to see more of these electric shuttles almost anywhere.
One happy rider had this reflection of her visit to Yellowstone:
“The folks operating the shuttle told me about 1,240 people a week are riding the TEDDY vehicles and that riders were both curious and more knowledgeable about the tech than they expected. My ride was uneventful, as it should have been. The vehicle did pause unnecessarily because the self-driving system thought it needed to. The
human safety operator warned me that this pause would likely occur, as it had been happening regularly over the past few days.”
Well, there may still be a few bugs to work out.
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